World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative has been withdrawn from Sierra Leone a week after President Ernest Bai Koroma openly expressed his disappointment at the apparent slow pace response of the international community to the Ebola crisis in the country. The President voiced his displeasure during his visits to the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) housed at the WHO Country Office, Cantonment Road, Off Kingharman Road, Brookfields in Freetown.
However, the Information Officer at WHO, Joy Ribatta, told Concord Times in an exclusive interview that the replacement of Dr. Jacob Mufunda was part of WHO's policy to rotate its staff from one country to the other for efficiency in their work.
She said for the past months since the Ebola outbreak in the country, Dr. Mufunda has been working hard to meet WHO standards in response to the outbreak, noting that her organization was committed to the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone and the entire West Africa sub-region.
She said the outgoing WHO country boss has worked tirelessly since the outbreak of the deadly disease, and that it was necessarily for him to have a break for other personnel to take over the leadership of the country office.
"A high-powered delegation from WHO and the United Nations headquarters [in New York] will be in the country to meet with stakeholders, including government officials, on Monday to discuss the UN agencies' response to the outbreak, with specific reference to the role of WHO over the past three months," she said.
Moreover, sources within State House alleged that Dr. Mufunda has not been giving the necessary advice to the government of Sierra Leone in dealing with the Ebola outbreak.
"It is good that the President was very strong in his statement during his visit to the WHO chief. Our international partners should treat us with all the seriousness we deserve," a top State House official told Concord Times on condition of anonymity.
President Koroma had earlier registered his utter dismay over the slow pace of the international community in responding to his clarion call to support the fight against Ebola since the outbreak was confirmed in May this year.
"I am disappointed at the international community for their delay in responding to the fight against the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone," President Koroma said. "We have not been provided with enough equipment, resources, qualified health officers, and we have lost the only expert we had in the country to the disease amidst the declaration of the international health emergency on Ebola."
President Korma said he had had discussions with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon with the UN chief promising to be in touch with the Director General of WHO to address the situation.
"I think we have made an appeal to the international community and we have taken the measures that we should take, but we still do not have much response and I am disappointed at them over the delays to respond to the situation," he maintained.